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Jordan Demands Nuclear Rights in Trade Talks With U.S.

Jordan continues to demand that it be allowed to produce nuclear fuel as part of a civilian atomic trade deal with the United States, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday (see GSN, June 14).

The Obama administration is believed to be pressing Amman to accept an agreement in which it relinquished its right to enrich uranium, a process that could be used to produce weapon-grade nuclear material. Jordan, which has large deposits of uranium, says it must retain its rights as a member state to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in developing an atomic energy sector.

"We are now in continuous negotiations with the United States, and the latest round was in Washington last week," said Khaled Tukan, who leads Jordan's Atomic Energy Commission.

"But I think we still don't have common ground. They started to understand our viewpoint, but still (there is) no common ground," he told AFP.

"The United Arab Emirates has relinquished all its NPT rights to sensitive nuclear technology indefinitely" under a similar nuclear trade deal with the United States, he said. "Why should we give up our rights?"

The nuclear treaty states that "all countries have the right to full utilization of peaceful nuclear energy, research and development," Tukan said.

"We are sticking and adhering to the NPT, and (we want) full rights and privileges under the NPT," he said (Agence France-Presse/Google News, June 28).

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is expected soon to sign an atomic energy collaboration deal with Russia, Bloomberg reported today.

“After the signing of the cooperation agreement, we will have the potential to work on research reactors and we also plan to take part in the Emirates’ program with the Koreans,” Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said yesterday following talks with Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan (Bloomberg/Moscow Times, June 29).

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